I enjoy writing articles about forgotten legends and, more often than not, these legends are overlooked offensive lineman. Offensive linemen, as a whole, are overlooked. Sometimes, even great ones are but let’s face it: THE most important unit on the football field is the offensive line. Great Quarterbacks like Montana, Brady, Marino, etc. all had one thing in common: They had very good if not great offensive lines. The man I am going to tell you about today was one of the greatest Guards in NFL history and, in my opinion, deserves induction in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His name is Ed White and, in his career, he protected two Hall of Fame quarterbacks: Fran Tarkenton and Dan Fouts.
White graduated from Indio High School in Indio, California. In college, White played for the University of California, Berkeley Golden Bears (1966-68) as a lineman and was selected a consensus All-American player in 1968.
White began his professional football career with the Minnesota Vikings after being drafted in the second round of the 1969 AFL/NFL draft. He is one of 11 players to have played in all four Vikings’ Super Bowl appearances between 1969 and 1976. Before the 1978 season, White was traded to the San Diego Chargers with whom he played until 1985 when he retired after seventeen years and 241 games. Mainly used at offensive guard, he was selected to the Pro Bowl four times.
Ed White played for two legendary coaches in Bud Grant and Don Coryell and played with two legendary quarterbacks in Tarkenton and Fouts. He also played in some of the most memorable games in NFL history: The 1975 NFC Divisional Playoff “Hail Mary” game against Dallas, the 1977 NFC Divisional Playoff “Mud Bowl” against the Rams, the 1978 “Holy Roller” game against the Raiders, the 1981 AFC Divisional Playoff double overtime win in Miami and the 1981 AFC Championship Game versus the Bengals in Cincinnati that is widely considered the coldest game in NFL history. To say he saw it all during his career would be a huge understatement at the very least.
While researching this article, what I found most impressive was a statement made by the great offensive line coach Jim Hanifan, who played at Cal under the legendary coach Pappy Waldorf and who was the offensive line coach when Ed played for the Chargers. Hanifan is effusive on the subject of Ed White: “Ed White is a beautiful person”, he said. “There is not a single phony thing about Ed White. If everyone could be like Ed White, my God, we’d have a wonderful world!” At the same time, Hanifan assured, Ed White in pads was one “muy mal hombre” (very bad man), not to mention a terrific athlete who was extremely quick for a big man and with great agility and recoverability. “You always kind of felt sorry for the guy across the line from him,” Hanifan said, ‘cause you knew he was going to kick the living hell out of him.”
Hall of Fame Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts, said of White, “The accomplishments are all there. The guy was in four Super Bowls, the first to be All-Pro in both conferences.” Fouts added, “You talk to his contemporaries, they’ll tell you the same thing. But it’s very difficult for offensive lineman to get inducted. The only stats they keep for those guys is starts and games played. And Big Ed is tops there, too—241 games, a record at that time.”
If you ever watched Ed White play guard for the Vikings and Chargers as I have, you would know there was no doubt he was a dominant player. He was a multi-dimensional offensive lineman who was as good at pass blocking as he was at run blocking and played at an era where the rules were not nearly in favor of the offense as they are today. The Pro Football Hall of Fame voters need to recognize Ed White as an all-time great who deserves enshrinement into its hall.